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Brian Donald Smith

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SMITH, Brian Donald

Brian Donald Smith, 81, died October 29, 2013 traveling to Los Angeles USA.

His services will be held on Friday, November 8, 2013 White's Funeral Home at 6:00pm and Funeral Mass 10:30 am Saturday, November 9, 2013 St. Frances of Rome Catholic Church, 501 E. Foothill Blvd, Azusa, CA 91702.

Brian was born 11 September 1932 in London, England to Winifreda and Alfred Smith. A man of opinions, stubborn, intensely intellectual, private but charming when he desired, all these apply to Brian Smith. One who could master a complex language with ease, Brian spoke Chinese, Vietnamese, Bahasa Indonesia, Russian, German, French, Flemish, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and could understand countless other languages. He fed off language, words - the pleasure of communication across all borders.

Brian embodied the concept of a man of letters and adventure combined. He wanted to see the world, and from the age of 18 he never stopped travelling. He was driven by his passion for movement, backpacking through post-war Germany as a student, graduating from the School of Slavonic & East European Studies, learning fluent Russian as a National Serviceman in the Intelligence Corps. Brian witnessed many of the late 20th century's turning points – from a locked down China before its economic reforms, Cambodia and Laos' implosions to Vietnam's bloody war. His career was bound to his love for other cultures, other languages and other peoples – a deep and undying love of the world's many colors.

Brian joined the British Council in London in 1961, and for nearly 30 years until his retirement in January 1989, it was his professional home. His work took him everywhere, his family in tow. Spain, Vietnam, Nigeria, Indonesia, Belgium, Brunei, China – Brian loved them all for their complexities, difficulties and passions. Vietnam was where he met and married Bernadette in February 1963. Bernadette died in 1997 of cancer.

In 1999 Brian and Kim-Yen were married in Canterbury, England. Together they threw themselves into a second life, again dedicated to exploring the world, with trips covering Latin America, Europe and Asia. Always busy, Brian reviewed works on Asia, translated texts, worked with Indonesia's Ministry of education, lectured at the University of Brunei, and did volunteer work in Bangladesh, Vietnam and Ukraine after his retirement.

During the last few years, with a weakened heart and fragile on his feet, Brian refused to limit himself, rushing at trips across America and the world, Brian never wanted to think he would have to let go of that passion for travel. Brian's mind was sharper than ever, ready for a political or philosophical sparring match with anyone foolish enough to try.

Brian is survived by his wife of 14 years Kim-Yen, and his two children Anne Marie and Francis, his stepchildren, Ian, Robin, Fiona, Colin, Nalini, Catherine, Aimee, his children-in-law Lenni, Alyanie and his grandchildren Urann and Binh, and step-grandchildren Caden, Asha, Nigel, Oliver,

Condolences may be sent to 1563 North Hilltop Drive, Azusa, Los Angeles, CA 91702, USA
Published in San Gabriel Valley Tribune on Nov. 8, 2013
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